Michigan joins Minnesota in wolf request as Wisconsin treads water

Madison – The Wisconsin DNR has yet to decide whether to jump on
the wolf delisting bandwagon, but the state of Michigan didn’t
hesitate to take that leap and has joined Minnesota in petitioning
the federal government for such a move.

On April 1, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and
Environment officials said they support recent action by the state
of Minnesota to remove the gray wolf from the list of species
protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Minnesota filed a formal petition requesting swift federal
action on that point with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken
Salazar on March 15.

“Our colleagues in Minnesota have done an excellent job of
making the case for the regional recovery of the gray wolf,” said
Michigan DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “The strength of this
petition will hopefully compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
to act swiftly so that we can implement our wolf management plans.
We stand in full support of Minnesota’s formal petition.”

Humphries said recovery goals established by the USFWS to allow
removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection have been
met since 1999, and the current wolf population in Michigan and
Wisconsin exceeds the recovery goal by more than 10 times. The
federal goal specifies that the two states must have just 100
wolves combined. Both states, estimates say, have more than 700
wolves.

State authority would allow implementation of state wolf plans,
which include lethal control of problem wolves.

On April 7, state DNR officials said they believed wolves have
recovered sufficiently and support Minnesota’s efforts to delist
wolves. However, the Wisconsin DNR had not reached a decision to
join other states in a lawsuit seeking delisting, or file on its
own.

The state has applied for a permit to control problem wolves,
but to date hadn’t received any type of reply.

Court challenges to delisting the wolf in the Great Lake states
resulted in their return to the federal list on Sept. 29, 2008.
Wolves were delisted again in April, 2009. This position was again
reversed by a lawsuit last September. The USFWS also entered into
an agreement last summer, and problem wolves cannot be lethally
controlled until they are delisted again.

USFWS spokesman Josh Winchell, of Arlington, Va., said on April
7 that the agency has received Minnesota’s petition and is
reviewing that state’s request.

Wolf census meeting

Wisconsin wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven expects an increase when
the latest population estimate is tallied Friday, April 9, in
Wausau, but he’s not speculating whether the number will take a
dramatic hike like it did last winter.

The late-winter wolf count jumped 20 to 25 percent last year,
when the DNR said it believed there were somewhere between 630 to
680 wolves in about 160 packs. Even an increase half that large
would put the total over 700 this winter; one similar to last year
would place the estimate in the 800 range.

“I think it will be somewhat more than last year, but I don’t
want to speculate beyond that,” Wydeven said last week.

The spring wolf population monitoring meeting was at the Day’s
Inn (lower level) in Wausau. The meeting was open to the public.
Wydeven said he would lead off with a short update on the status of
wolf management, followed by an update on delisting status by Joel
Trick of the USFWS.

Pilot observations and reports, depredation management, summer
trapping and howl survey work, and winter ground surveys were to
take up the remainder of the morning and afternoon before
tabulations and a summary of the new state wolf estimate was to be
made.

On Saturday, April 10, a stakeholders meeting was to include
some of the same topics, but also dig into a review of the draft
2010 state wolf plan. The plan will be updated before it goes to
the Natural Resources Board later this year for review and
approval.

In other wolf news:

€ In mid-March, a wolf weighing 140 pounds was reportedly shot
near Walnut in Bureau County, Illinois. Photos of the dead wolf –
and possibly the same wolf alive on a trail camera – are available
with a Google search. Two years ago, a coyote hunter shot a
145-pound wolf that was confirmed as part of the Great Lakes
population originating in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota.

€ The presence of two or more wolves recently was confirmed in
northern Cheboygan County in Lower Michigan. The first evidence of
range expansion from the Upper Peninsula into the Lower came in
2004 when a gray wolf was accidentally killed in Presque Isle
County.

€ Idaho sold more than 31,000 wolf tags for its first hunt in
modern history, generating nearly a half-million dollars. Hunters
reported killed 185 wolves out of the quota of 220. The season
ended last month. Idaho’s wolf population was estimated at nearly
850 last year.

€ Montana sold more than 15,000 licenses, generating more than
$325,000 in revenue. Hunters reported shooting 72 wolves out of a
75-wolf quota last fall. The population was estimated at more than
500 wolves in 101 packs.

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